Question regarding students leaving team meetings then returning later that same meeting

We are a school affiliated team and meet once a week from dismissal until around 8 PM. For other teams that are also school affiliated and meet directly after school on school property–do you allow your students to leave the school property/campus and then return during the time span of the team meeting? If yes—are they just allowed to come and go as they please or do you have some sort of permission system where they either ask a coach/mentor for permission to leave or where they need to have permission from a parent/guardian to leave? We are trying to develop some rules regarding this on our team and wanted to see how other school affiliated teams handles this. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

If they come in, they sign in on our program attendance sheet.
If they’re signed in to our program, they are our responsibility and they need to tell us where they are (general expectation is in the room or with a mentor, working on Robots stuff). If they’re not signed in to our program, they’re not our problem that day.
If they are leaving, they are expected to sign out.

(If they come back later, they can sign back in, but that behavior is not encouraged and has pretty much only ever happened for weekend sessions with parents picking students up for other commitments)

Every couple years we have students telling their parents they “were at robotics” when they were actually off snogging, so we keep logs to avoid “he said she said” situations. Nice side benefit is being able to show hours worked stats to our sponsors.


To be honest, our policy is do whatever the heck you want as long as you dont get hurt or get in trouble with admin or with the cops.

I leave for lunch or dinner whenever I feel like it and frequently on Saturdays the entire student leadership team will just be like “hey we are leaving, we’ll be back in an hour, don’t get hurt”.

Far from the best policy, but it works for us and we have never had any problems in 7 years of being a team.


When we have after school meetings, a few students will usually walk to the Whole Foods or Walgreens that are a few blocks from the school to get food/drinks and will then come back. I don’t really see a problem with it because those team members (like most of our team) are extremely dedicated to robotics and will work hard when they come back.

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We are also a school-based team.
Our school dismisses at 3:55pm. Our weekday meetings begin at 4:30 - primary this is when our industrial mentors can make it to our school/lab.
We don’t take attendance until 4:30. Luckily, we haven’t had a problem with members leaving to…snog.
We meet until 7:30pm. As the faculty advisor, I stay until the last member leaves or is picked up by a parent.
During build season, our Saturday meetings run 9am-4pm. We arrange for parents to feed the team - so no one leaves the building (30 minute lunch as opposed to an hour+ if we allow them to leave for lunch).
I consider our team very lucky! We’ve never had the problems that other teams having with their membership.
Since we meet on campus – the members treat it as an extension of the school with most of the rules and expectations intact.

For safety and security, I would not allow members to come and go as they please.

It comes down to safety and productivity. If your circumstance is that where the school administration trusts the students to care for themselves without adult supervision, and you are still getting what you want done despite people coming in and out, then it’s probably not a problem. On the other hand, if you find your productivity is taking a hit because many of your students are MIA when they should be working, you may want to implement some kind of attendance policy. Or if your school administration requires adult supervision of students during extracurricular activities (as they probably do) and holds you responsible for them while they’re out on the town, you probably want to keep better track of them to minimize risk.

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We do have an sign in/out sheet the students use every meeting…but I’m not certain students are using it when they leave and come back. Also- it’s beyond just knowing who’s there and who isn’t. We’ve had a few parents tell us they don’t want their kid leaving campus during robotics. So we need to find a way to manage to that.

So how do you handle it when students want to leave the meeting? Or does that just not happen on your team?

The statement was probably poorly worded - I am more concerned with the random coming and going.
We have an expectation that members tell their mentor at the beginning of a meeting if they must leave early.

Respect for the sign in / out process is a problem.

Do your students realize that they are at an after-school program you are responsible for the safety at, or are they just at a student club that they go to sometimes?

Our school has an open campus, meaning students leave frequently for lunch (our cafeteria can’t possibly serve 10% of our 2600 students). We sort of carry this over into after school by default. We’ve implemented a policy for signing in and out but students often leave and come back. I realize this isn’t practical for many teams, and that yours may need to rein it in tighter, which is fine.

We aren’t school affiliated, but we like to have students let us know if they’re leaving early or arriving late to a meeting just so that we know where they are. Our meetings are also only 3 hours long, so students don’t often come back if they leave.

My team has kinda two types of members:
Our super dedicated, super experienced older members who stay really late
and our newbies this year (its about 40/60 rn)

The older members, especially those with cars kinda just say “hey ‘mentor name’ We’re gonna go get food and be back in a bit. Want anything?” and this becomes super typical in build season. Many of our seniors have senior releases so they show up around 4ish to most meetings.

The freshmen don’t enjoy the same luxury simply because they don’t have cars and none of the older kids are willing to take them with them.
We have had issues with freshmen not saying in our 3 assigned room/workspaces and we’ve been working on that, but the older members have paid our dues and earned our stripes, especially since almost everyone in that category is leadership, we get some freedoms and responsibilities that freshmen don’t.


We allow students to come and go as they please during open room hours, but during the build season, they must clock out, and clock back in when they come back (hours worked in the room is a metric that counts towards earning a varsity letter on my team). However, during an actual structured team/subteam meeting (e.g with an agenda and stuff), it is considered bad manners at best to leave and come back in the middle of it, especially since they are relatively short (0.5-1 hours).

Like others have said, it is mostly a team-specific question of policy. Surveying what the school’s existing policies are, or what similar clubs and activities have for policies could help inform how you design your policies.

As others have said, I would think it would be a minimum safety requirement to keep a list of who is present and who is not, which implies respect for a sign-in and sign-out process. I think this is independent of whether anyone is allowed to leave at all.

IMO, expecting everyone to always stay for an additional five hours (especially after a full day at school) isn’t reasonable, so any policy would have to have an exception process. How painful you make that process is just a question of how frequent you want it to happen. Just my $0.02, though.

One thing I would advise caution on - be sure the policies you put in place benefit the whole team, not just a few parents. It could be they have a genuine concern, which you should work with to address. I’ve also seen cases where they view the robotics club as a baby-sitting service, and just want someone else to take care of their kid. Just takes a bit of wisdom to ensure you know which case you’re dealing with.

Regardless of policy, I’d want to be sure the parent and child are on the same page first - make sure the child knows the family expectations, which may go above and beyond the team’s policy expectations. As long as this is the case, I’m happy to work alongside the parents in enforcement.

IMO, expecting everyone to always stay for an additional five hours (especially after a full day at school) isn’t reasonable, so any policy would have to have an exception process.


It seems our biggest problem is with people working on stuff so they pull out lots of tools and parts, generate a lot of metal shavings and then disappear early obligating everyone else to clean up their mess.

As the owner of a teenager myself, I understand that the Frontal-cleanupulum Lobe is severely under-developed but it’s still frustrating.


Inactivity in the Frontal-cleanupulum Lobe is a known precursor to wheresthattool syndrome… Learn the warning signs folks


For us, You can come and go as you please, I’ve popped out to get lunch, Came back and ate lunch in the shop, then a little while later went to work and then came back after work, all in the same day.

During events however, You must be at the event during the time that school is in session (An exception would be leaving for official team business, Like going to the local hardware store for parts). If you leave at all during that time for non-team related business, Its treated the same as walking out of your class and your school related absence will be changed to an unexcused absence.

We just have it so if you leave, your parents get a call and they must pick you up. Mentors are responsible for the location of the on-the-team students. And they must be at the venue.
Off-the-team students such as alumni are allowed to leave because they are responsible for themselves, aren’t part of the high school anymore, and are ‘elevated’ to chaperones.

Our event policy is much the same as our regular policy.

District events are weekends and you may come and go as you please, so long as you let someone know like a student lead or a mentor. I’ve taken a lunch trip to WaWa in a senior’s car once or twice, and I’m sure I’ll do it again this year.

District champs are the same, albeit with a stricter enforcement policy of telling a mentor. Last year a group of students walked 3 miles to a WaWa during MAR DCMP. Also, since DCMP is an away competition, you must be on the bus that goes to the stadium and on the bus that comes back to the hotel.

Our policy for Detroit (if we ever go) will likely be the same as DCMP with the added restrictions that students have to be within x distance of the convention center and may only leave in groups of 3. Also, there likely won’t be a bus to and from the hotel, so instead students will be required to walk with the team to and from the hotel each day.